IN 1968 the American artist Andy Warhol gave birth to the idea that in the future everyone would be world-famous for 15 minutes.
The prediction must have been inconceivable at the time.
There was no Internet, and for the most part Australians led unremarkable lives.
Fast-forward 50 years and Andy Warhol’s prediction has more or less come true – at least in the theoretical sense.
Instagram, Facebook and YouTube are channels that theoretically provide the framework for anyone to become famous, or infamous.
This kind of fame is fleeting, and so often the consequences are damaging.
In his book How to Win Friends and Influence People, Dale Carnegie identified the desire to feel important as one of the chief distinguishing differences between humans and animals.
Perhaps what Mr Carnegie failed to identify is that humanity’s burning desire for affirmation was not fuelled by a lack of importance, but rather a lack of love.
If God is love, then we must assume that what humanity desires, what we yearn for, is God.
Love, however, is becoming an increasingly confusing pursuit – especially in the world of social media.
Kym Keady is the co-founder of Real Talk, an organisation that educated young people on the potential dangers of sex, relationships and social media.
Mrs Keady said applications like Instagram were having an adverse effect on female equality.
“With the rise of technology and the acceptability of pornography we’ve seen the degradation of women all over again,” she said.
“Some of those Instagram profiles are full-on. They’re just posting pictures of themselves in their underwear.
“I say this in some of my presentations: after everything women have been through we’re all the way back to the beginning and it’s in the name of sexual freedom.
“It’s in the name of ‘hey, you can be and wear whatever you want’ – we’ve almost gone all the way back to a woman asking herself ‘is there something wrong with me if I don’t want to put a picture of myself like that online?’
“Or, ‘is there something wrong with me if I don’t want to perform like a porn star in this relationship?’
“Instead of ‘is there something wrong with what I’m being asked to do?’
“Or ‘is there something wrong with the portrayal of women?’ It’s crazy.
“We’ve gone all the back again to being seen as less than human.”
Mrs Keady’s sentiments are not hyperbolic.
A simple search of Instagram will reveal thousands of young women posting this kind of revealing content 24/7.
Samantha is a 23-year-old woman who has more than 150,000 followers.
Her job title is “Instagram influencer”.
“I basically get paid to take photos of myself in my bikini,” Samantha said.
“If I put a photo up of my bum, we all know it’s going to get a lot more engagement than a photo of me making a smoothie.
“The raunchier the photos are, the more likes I get, which means that advertisers are more likely to want to use me to sell their products.”
The products Samantha advertises on her Instragram account include beauty products, swimwear, sunglasses, and anything else that looks marketable next to her near-naked body.
The commercialisation of the young female body is becoming increasingly prolific, and it is something Mrs Keady says is troublesome for women.
“We talk about sexualisation and objectification and what that means in regards to the link between pornography,” she said.
“If you put something that’s digitally beautiful like a woman next to a product, obviously the advertisers have marketing groups that have psychologists in the group and they know that people will look at a woman who’s all dressed up and looking beautiful.
“So, if I were trying to sell my product it would make sense that I would put the most beautiful thing I could think of beside the product to make people look at it.
“But what they’re doing is overly sexualising the woman as well as making her an object and a product.”
The idea of commercialising beauty is not a new phenomenon.
For centuries beautiful women have been used to draw both men and women into consumerism.
What is novel is the fact that any young woman with a mobile phone can inadvertently turn her body into a product.
“It’s a key way of receiving love and affirmation,” Mrs Keady said.
“People are so desperate to feel important, loved or valued – even if it’s for this one moment and not the next moment.”
Madonna King is the author of the book Fathers and Daughters, as well as a journalist and media commentator.
“No adult should underestimate the pressure of a peer group,” Ms King said.
“It is much greater than when we were teens, as is the need to fit in.”
Ms King said the motivations to post half-naked photos could be varied.
“The most common are, one, the need for affirmation: (they want their friends to like their photo and say how good they look), two, pressure from their friends (“We are doing it. Why aren’t you?’’)
“That need to not stand out is so strong in our teen girls; and, three, often boys will ask girls to send a photo of themselves.
“We need to teach boys not to do that.
“And we need to teach girls that they are allowed to say no.”
Ms King interviewed more than 500 girls and fathers for her book, and much of the research demonstrated the need for girls to have strong, positive fathers in their life.
“A father determines the type of relationship a daughter will have later in life,” Ms King said.
“This is an enormous power for fathers – but she will learn to accept what she sees.
“That means how her father treats her mother, his sisters and other women is so important.
“Dads need to set the bar high, so their daughters do too.
“This is not only my research; it has been found time and time again. “The second point is that fathers need to explain to their daughters that they made mistakes when they were her age.
“Many fathers struggle with the words ‘Sorry’ or ‘I made a mistake’. “So many girls told me they couldn’t tell their dad something because he wouldn’t understand, or he would get very angry.
“A big exception was among separated dads and girls in their mid to late teens.
“Their fathers had told them they didn’t get it right, that this wasn’t how they expected things to work out, that they were sorry for this or that – and that meant the girls were then able to talk to them more readily.
“‘Dad showed a vulnerability and that allowed me to talk about some stuff of mine’, is an example of the type of comment made.
“Girls need to know their fathers made mistakes, so they know they can talk to him when they make one themselves.”
A significant concern for some teenagers is not their own social media use, but rather their parents’.
“As chair of the state taskforce on cyberbullying, I was taken aback by teens who asked how they might ‘get their mum off Facebook’,” Ms King said.
“One said he didn’t get fed always because his mum was in her room on social media.
“Social media is no longer new and it worries me that there is a generation of young parents who might be as addicted as their children.
“As always, being a role model is crucial – a digital detox; family time; reading; time to discuss and debate what they see on social media.
“That last one is really important because it can provide an adult context to teen discussions.
“I don’t think any of this is easy, but we signed up to be parents – and our own parents had other difficulties with us.
“I was grounded more than once for loud music, or getting home late.”
Ms King agreed that the impetus for inappropriate social media use came back to the burning desire to feel loved – to feel anything.
“That’s what it’s all about,” she said.
“The number of ‘likes’ on Instagram is the perfect example.
“So many girls feel as though their post isn’t good enough – their comments or words or photos – if someone didn’t ‘like’ it.
“They are judging themselves on how someone else sees them. It’s a fake love.
“What does a ‘like’ show? Nothing.
“Our teen girls are so capable and so strong and so thoughtful.
“They are much more self-assured and articulate than we might have been at their age.
“But they have a vulnerability, built on the back of social media, and that’s what we all need to target.”